Story by: Sara Thompson on April 4, 2022
Early symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) can start to appear in adolescence, but the disease tends to develop in adults between the ages of 20 and 40. MS tends to progress and can do so at varying speeds for every patient.
MS is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the central nervous system, damaging or destroying the myelin tissue around the nerve fibers. Depending on where MS strikes, the symptoms can vary widely.
No one knows what triggers MS, although it is likely the product of several factors including genetics and exposure to certain viruses and the environment. There is no known cure for MS. Treatment focuses on easing symptoms during a relapse, addressing the disease itself and rehabilitation therapy to better manage symptoms.
MS is a complex disease. While MS sometimes can be seen in the form of lesions on the myelin that surrounds nerves, the diagnostic process can be lengthy and may require eliminating other possible conditions.
Norton Neuroscience Institute is recognized as an MS Center for Comprehensive Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
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Norton Neuroscience Institute patients tend to show the following early symptoms of MS:
Approximately 1 miliion people are living with Multipls Sclerosis in the US, and MS is as much as three times more common in women than men.
When a patient develops early symptoms of MS, diagnosis isn’t as simple as a blood test. The complexity of the disease requires MS clinic experience and training to pinpoint the condition.
“Since this disease is so variable, we have to look at the whole person. The big picture, including past neurological symptoms,” said Jocelyn H. McGuire, APRN, a nurse practitioner and neurology specialist at Norton Neuroscience Institute. “Is it just numbness? Is it numbness and double vision? Are these symptoms consistent? What other medical conditions exist? We also do many tests, both to confirm an MS diagnosis and to rule out anything else.”
Tools in diagnosing MS based on early symptoms or a more progressed case of the disease include:
“It can be a frustrating process,” Jocelyn said. “There are so many different tests, and sometimes the symptoms come and go so unpredictably; it might take several months and several specialists before we pinpoint the real illness.”
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